Issue 14: November 09

Dear Fancy,

We've had our cat for about year now (or, really, he's had us). We named him Murray because he's so "purry." His purr motor revs up almost as soon as we start petting him. Sometimes before, I think. We're fascinated by this phenomenon. How do cats purr, and in what other circumstances, besides lovey sessions, do they purr?

- Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Simply put, we purr primarily to express emotions and, in times of distress, to comfort ourselves and others. Most people know that cats can purr with abandon (and usually lots of kneading) when they're being stroked and pampered by one of their favorite humans. But purrs come in handy in other situations too. For example, a mom cat purrs to her kittens while nursing. We're proud of our purr.

Exactly how do we produce this exquisite sound? That's a question which has vexed the best medical minds. Perhaps the explanation is better left to philosophers and poets:

How doth the little kitty purr?
With verve, charm, and confidence
Quietly wrap'd in fur.

Nonetheless, the question is examined from a scientific standpoint in this article—WHY DO CATS PURR—which also has lots of information about why and when cats purr. For instance, did you know we can customize our purrs for different situations? The article also looks at the therapeutic power of purring.


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